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Paul Halsall
Modern Western Civilization

Class 11 : The Liberal Revolution


I. The Estates General May 1789 - July 1789

King still in Charge

Estates General met May 5 1789 at Versailles

II. National Constituent Assembly July 1789 - 1791

A: Events

  1. The Third Estate Declares itself National Assembly June 17th
    Tennis Court Oath June 20th 1789
  2. The king opposed it but majority of the clergy some nobles joined it.
  3. June 27th the King capitulated.
  4. National assembly takes name NATIONAL CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

B. The King's Fatal Decision

  1. Louis tried to re-assert his authority - with an army near Versailles - 18,000 troops-Marie Antoinette advised him to attack it.
  2. -King acts stupidly - tries to undermine NAT. ASS but not effectively - creates anxiety amongst its supporters -
  3. The King abandoned the bourgeoisie, which monarchs had supported for a century and now supported the nobility
  4. Now to revolt against the nobility the Third Estate also had to revolt against the King.
  5. But Two Mass Uprisings of the Masses saved the Nat. Assembly

C. Revolt of the Poor of Paris

  1. Rising bread prices 1788-89 - riots already in the spring of 1789
  2. Paris politicised by the elections to the EG - had continued to meet after elections.
  3. Paris mob storms the Bastille - JULY 14 1789
    Basically a prison, but not used very much by 1789 -raided to find weapons for revolutionary militias growing up in Paris
  4. troops fired into crowd, killing 98 - crowd storms fortress - kills troops
  5. Symbolic importance: First re-direction of the Revolution by pop of Paris
    -Also caused similar disturbances in other cities
  6. Militias take name NATIONAL GUARD - led by Lafayette
    Take Tricolour as flag (Blue and red for Paris, white for the bourbon king)

D. Revolt of the Peasants - revolts from Spring 1789

  1. In July - Massive revolts throughout France
  2. -The Great Fear - fear of royal troops
  3. -Destruction of lots of medieval documents
  4. Forced the National Assembly to abolish "feudal" dues
    -August 4th 1789
    -there was a sort of carnival of self-sacrifice amongst the nobility + the rich bourgeoisie
    -all feudal dues, rights and tithes
  5. After this the Peasantry had a very quite and almost conservative role - it had what it wanted - LAND.
  6. But it was the economic conditions that had made the Revolution take on such vast proportions.

E. Ideological Actions of the National Constituent Assembly

  1. August 4th Laws -
    All French now subject to the same laws.
    Abolished the "feudal regime" + Tithes + hunting rights + venal offices (explain)
    Peasants supposed to pay compensation - but this requirement was abolished under radical rev. in 1793.
  2. Declaration of the Rights of Man - August 27th 1789
    [Discuss in Class - Where did the Ideas in it come from]
    Printed in 1000s of leaflets and distributed around France.
    IMPORTANCE OF PROPAGANDA
  3. Ideals
    -equality before the law
    -due process (art 7)
    -natural rights - liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression (art 2)
    -sovereignity resides in the Nation (art 3)
    -law is an expression of the General Will (art.6)
    -freedom of religion (art 10) [Jews as well, for 1st time)
    -free speech (art 11)
    -separation of powers (art 16)
    -Enlightenment ideas + American declarations of rights (eg Virginia in 1776)

F. King and Government Move to Paris - October 6th

  1. Forced by the Poor Women of Paris
  2. Made government function under threat of mob violence but
  3. France was now to peaceful for almost 3 years

III. The National Constituent Assembly's Governing

It faced massive problems of control. It would not repudiate the state debt (since many of its members were men of property and were owed money). It also had to find a way to rule France now that the power of the monarch was in shreds.

A. Administration - the Reforming of France

B. Economic Liberalism

C. The State Debt

D. The Church: Civil Constitution of the Clergy July 1790

E. Constitution of 1791

This was what the National Constituent Assembly was for.

IV. The King's Actions Destabilize the Liberal Revolution

The King was becoming more and more impotent.

June 20 1791 - Louis XVI tried to flee, but was stopped at Varennes and brought back June 24 a virtual prisoner.

The attitude of the King made the constitutional monarchy of the 1791 Constitution impossible to work. There was no strong executive provided for apart from the King's ministers.

V. The Legislative Assembly

Took over October 1 1987.

It was to prove ineffective. This eventually led to a radicalisation of the Revolution.

Reaction to Revolution Abroad

A. Intellectuals

  • Most Intellectuals and philosophes praised it: Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Beethoven

B. Conservatives opposed it

  • Edmund Burke - Reflections on the French Revolution 1790 (ie before the Terror).
  • This is interesting as the foundation of modern conservatism is also a result of French Rev. Burke is not a supporter of tyranny or despotism, rather he says in opposition to liberals -people are not good - they are what they are and you cannot make things better over night
  • Populism should not be trusted
  • Good government is going to come about through long experience and should not be overthrown
  • Government is complicated and simple schemes can neverbe satisfactory-
  • There also a longing for how things were that goes with all conservatism

C. Thomas Paine: The Rights of Man 1791 - response to Burke

D. Mary Wollstonecraft Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792 and Olympe de Gouge The Rights of Women 1791 in France]

French Rev did not really address rights of women. eg voting was only for men.

E. The Revolution also upset other monarchs

although they were not unhappy to see France weakened. But they did not want revolution to spread -

This was the end of Enlightened Despotism. There were attempts all over Europe to stop reform movements

1793 & 1795 - Poland was dismembered

VI. The Wars

A. 1791 Declaration of Pillnitz August 27

B. War Period - Begins April 1792

  1. There was pressure from democratic exiles from other countries
  2. Radicals thought a successful War would bring them support.
  3. Louis XVI supported the war - he hoped a loss would restore his position - as did many monarchist members of the Leg Assembly.
  4. [Robespierre opposed the war as he saw danger of defeat]

C. The French armies were soon retreating - this caused radicalisation at Home.

VI. Political Infighting in the Legislative Assembly

Idea of left and Right - origins in the meetings of the Legislative Assembly.

Different Factions

April 20 1792 -declared war on Austria thinking that it would bring most radical revolutionaries to power. -- BEGINNING OF THE RADICALIZATION OF REVOLUTION